Thursday, March 31, 2011

Creamy Poppyseed Dressing (like Briana's)

It is FINALLY beautiful weather here today.  I say "today," because it's only supposed to last a few days and then we're back to rain, snow, and cold.  But regardless of how long the weather is supposed to be nice, I wanted to enjoy it with a fresh, crisp salad.  Spinach Strawberry Salad would do the trick, but I needed a good dressing to top it with.  I found this wonderful concoction on the Deals to Meals Blog.  The bonus is that I already had all the ingredients at home!

Creamy Poppyseed Dressing
1 T. poppyseeds 
3/4 c. light or low-fat mayonnaise
2/3 c. white vinegar
3 T. milk
1 1/2 T. grated yellow dried or fresh onion
1 1/2 t. salt

1 tsp. dry mustard 
2/3 c. sugar

Whisk ingredients together until smooth and well blended.

Spinach Strawberry Salad
Toss the following ingredients (in desired proportions) together right before serving:
Baby spinach leaves
Sliced strawberries
Sliced purple onion
Dried cranberries (craisins)
Toasted sliced almonds
Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dreaming of Summer

Is anyone else (here in the West, anyway) dreaming of summer?  The little bit of sun we've seen every now and then just makes me want for summer even more.  I need sunshine, and it's been hard for me to endure these gray, overcast days.  So, I decided to eat lots of fruits and veggies and at least PRETEND summer is coming somewhere soon around the corner!  Here's what we had for Sunday dinner:

Fresh and tasty!  Winger's Sticky Chicken Salad

Winger's Sticky Chicken Salad (4 servings)
2 heads of Romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
2 chicken breasts, breaded and baked or fried until cooked through (I used a Parmesan chicken recipe and baked them until juices ran clear)
2-3 tomatoes, diced

½ c. cheddar cheese, shredded 
½ red onion, sliced thinly
Ranch dressing
Sticky Dressing:
     2 ½ c. brown sugar
     1/3 c. Franks Hot Sauce

     3 T. corn syrup
     ½ c. apple cider vinegar

Combine all sticky dressing ingredients in sauce pan. Stirring constantly on medium high heat, boil for one to one and a half minutes. If you cook longer than that, the sauce will turn hard like candy. This dressing can be used on salads, wings, chicken, etc. This dressing will stay good in your fridge for weeks, and it makes A LOT.  It also freezes and thaws well. One to two tablespoons on a full plate of salad is PLENTY!

Serve the salad with the ingredients mentioned above (we added mushrooms because we had them and we like them!) and then drizzle with ranch and then the Sticky Dressing (2 T. of the Sticky Dressing is 5 Weight Watchers PointsPlus.) You could also mix the ranch and dressing to make the 'Creamy Amazing Sauce' like at Wingers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crock Pot Pork Chop Dinner

Every week in their ad, Macey's prints a recipe that will feed a family of 4-6 for under $15-$18.  And the nice thing is they put all the ingredients for the meal in one place in the store (just as you enter) so it's quick shopping! I finally tried one of their recipes, and I'm so glad I did.  It was home-cooked goodness through and through!

Crock Pot Pork Chop Dinner
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed (if your potatoes are big, 3 will probably be enough)
1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced
4 boneless pork chops, 3/4" thick (I bought a sirloin roast because it was less expensive, and then sliced it into chops myself)
1 package dry onion soup mix
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup

Lightly spray large crock pot with Pam.  Place peeled and cubed potatoes in bottom of crock pot, and then layer carrots on top of the potatoes.  Place pork chops on top of the carrots, and sprinkle the dry onion soup mix over the pork chops.  Layer the sliced onions next, and then top with the condensed cream of mushroom soup. Place lid on crockpot, turn on HIGH, and cook for 5 hours (the recipe says LOW for 6-8 hours, but I didn't have that much time) until pork is fork tender and potatoes and carrots are done.  Serve with a salad and roll.  I thought the potatoes and carrots needed just a little seasoning, so next time I make this, I will probably sprinkle a little kosher salt on them before layering the pork chops.  Also, I thought this would be DELISH with fresh mushrooms added with the onion layer. I was surprised how saucy the pork, potatoes, and carrots were, considering no other liquid was added other than the soup.  So yummy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Honey Lemon Chicken

Umm, ummm, good! We just made this tonight and it was delicious! We got the recipe from the Quick Cooking 2004 book. The recipe tells you to grill the chicken, but we didn't have a grill, so we used our little George Foreman instead... and it was awesome! I also made a lot of substitions to the recipe, but I thought it turned out great and was so delicous! I also made up a "flavored rice" to go with the chicken that ended up tasting Greek, so I'll share that, too.

Plan ahead...needs to marinate.
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup honey
1/4 soy sauce
2 T. finely chopped onion (or the equivalent in dried minced onion)
4 garlic cloves, minced (or the equivalent in dried minced garlic)
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt-free seasoning blend (I didn't do this. Instead I used lemon-pepper seasoning)
1 tsp white pepper (I used black)
1 tsp lime juice (I also forgot to buy lime juice, so I just put a little extra lemon juice in there...)
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (5 oz. each)
In a bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients; mix well.
Pour 2/3 cup marinade into a large resealable plastic bag; add the chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.
Drain and discard marinade from chicken. Coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray before starting the grill. Grill chicken, uncovered, over medium heat 12-15 minutes or until juices run clear, turning once and basting occasionally with reserved marinade.
Yield: 6 servings.
Greek Rice
1 1/2 cups dry rice
3 cups water
~2 tsp chicken base
~2 tsp lemon juice
~1 T. parsley
~2 tsp salt
~2 tsp pepper
Combine rice, water, and chicken base to cook. During last few minutes of cooking, add lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust flavors as needed. Dish up on a plate and put chicken on top. Yummy! :)
Yield: 2 servings.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cream of Potato with Ham Soup

I have been making cream soups. This one turned out really good! I like the simplicity of adding the cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup to it instead of thickening the soup with flour and milk. The ham was in the freezer already diced and I just thawed it out in the refrigerator and added it to the soup. You could probably add it already frozen.

I also made bread sticks. I made the pizza dough recipe, then cut it in half and patted it out on two small cookie sheets. Baked at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, removed from oven. I left it in the pan while I poured melted butter over the tops, and then sprinkled with Garlic Bread sprinkle. I then cut it into rectangular pieces with a pizza cutter. Turned out pretty good, too!!!


½ onion, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can Swanson Chicken broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon chicken soup base
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
¾ cup milk
1 ½ cups diced cooked ham
Pepper to taste

Combine the chicken broth, water, and soup base. Add the onion, celery, and carrots; cover and simmer until almost tender. Stir in the potatoes and cook until tender.

In a medium bowl, combine the soups and milk. Stir into the cooked vegetables and stir until smooth. Stir in the ham and pepper to taste. Simmer until the flavors are blended.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chunky Peanut, Chocolate, and Cinnamon Cookies

Joshua's primary class finally earned a "party." Each student was able to bring a treat to the party held during scouts (on a weekday). Joshua wanted me to make "something normal" for him to bring--nothing too exotic or "weird." I made these cookies. He said they were a big hit--both with him and others at the party. (We liked them at home, too!)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Put butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Add sugars; mix 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips, peanuts, and vanilla with a mixing spoon until well distributed. Refrigerate dough until it is slightly firm, 15 minutes.

2.Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Space balls 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly. Bake until just golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 5 dozen.

Recipe source: Martha Stewart's Cookies

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake

I was planning on making the Neopolitan Cake from (By the way--you really should check out that site and specifically look for the Neopolitan Cake.) But as I was mixing the strawberry cake, I started to think a Chocolate-Covered Strawberry cake might be fun to make. So I added a little red food coloring to the strawberry cake batter. Then I made the "Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake" recipe from King Arthur Flour. When both cakes were made, cooled, and refrigerated, I divided the chocolate cakes in half, leveled the strawberry cakes, then stacked them with a chocolate layer, strawberry layer, chocolate, strawberry, and chocolate. I used ganache in between the layers and for a crumb coat. I frosted the cake with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting--but next time I will use ganache for more chocolately richness. And, of course, I dipped strawberries in chocolate for a garnish. Overall, we all enjoyed this cake!